Berlin Stories: The Antifolk Scene Takes On Berlin

Jul 2, 2013

In this special episode of Berlin Stories, hosts Deenah Vollmer and Cricket Arrison take a closer look at the Antifolk movement, a music scene that spread to Germany from New York.  

Antifolk, more of a culture than a genre, has nothing to do with hating folk music. Instead, Antifolk musicians, like Kimya Dawson and Jeffery Lewis, actually sound quite similar to traditional acoustic folk music, but they're a little rougher around the edges, with a more quirk and improvisation, almost a cross between folk and punk. 

Antifolk  has taken on a new life in Europe, gaining a mass popularity it had never known in the United States. Adam Green, one half of the group The Moldy Peaches, might be familiar to some Americans for his band's contribution to soundtrack of the 2007 film  Juno. In Germany, however, Green is a superstar, selling out stadium shows and appearing on the cover of European Rolling Stone. 

Why has this genre resonated so deeply with Germans? Hear from American pioneers of the genre, as well as the Germans who were inspired by the Antifolk community, about how they created a home for this kind of music in Berlin. 

For more information, including a track list and additional photos, check out the authors' tumblr.

Some Antifolkers hang out at Prinzessengarten in Berlin.
Credit Yoko Kikuchi

Berlin Stories is a multimedia journal about the city broadcast on NPR Berlin, FM 104,1 and NPR Worldwide.

Berlin Stories features are produced in Germany by Anna Winger, Melanie Sevcenko, and Victoria Gosling. For updates, Like Berlin Stories on Facebook or follow the show on Twitter @BerlinStoriesFM.

Deenah Vollmer is a Fulbright Journalist in Berlin this year, working for Berlin Stories and the New Yorker. Sometimes she interviews famous people for Interview Magazine, and her writing has also appeared in N+1, Bullett, and The Rumpus. She’s been involved with New York’s Anti-folk scene since 2005, and currently plays in the band L.A. Boobs.

Cricket Arrison is a radio producer and theater artist. She spent three years as the producer of the Marc Steiner Show, a daily public affairs program on WEAA in Baltimore. A member of The Un Saddest Factory Theatre Company since 2010, Cricket has produced, written, and appeared in numerous plays in Baltimore and the East Coast. She currently lives in Berlin where she is completing a Fulbright Fellowship for young journalists.